Francis Whitmore

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Sir Francis Whitmore
Born(1872-04-20)20 April 1872
Gumley Hall, Leicestershire
Died12 June 1962(1962-06-12) (aged 90)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Years of service1914–1918
RankLieutenant Colonel
Commands heldEssex Yeomanry, 10th Royal Hussars
Battles/warsWorld War I 1914–18

Colonel Sir Francis Henry Douglas Charlton Whitmore, 1st Baronet KCB CMG DSO TD JP (20 April 1872 – 12 June 1962) was a British military officer and landowner.

Family home[edit]

He was the son of Thomas Whitmore, an officer in the Royal Horse Guards. Thomas had inherited Orsett Hall (in Orsett, Essex) as a result of a gambling debt incurred by the previous owner, Digby Wingfield.[1] The estate passed to Francis on the death of his father in 1907.

Military career[edit]

Whitmore was educated at Eton and in 1892 he was commissioned into the 1st Essex Artillery Volunteers. He later transferred to the Essex Yeomanry and served in the Boer War with the Imperial Yeomanry. He served in the First World War and was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in 1915, eventually commanding the 10th Royal Hussars. He was mentioned in despatches four times, and awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917. In the 1918 New Year Honours list he was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG). After the war he wrote The 10th (P.W.O.) Royal Hussars and the Essex Yeomanry during the European War, 1914–1918 which was published in 1920.

The Whitmore Arms, Orsett

Sir Francis became a Justice of the Peace in 1899[2] and was High Sheriff of Essex in 1922.[3] He served as Lord Lieutenant of Essex from 1936 to 1958[2] and was created a baronet, of Orsett, in the County of Essex in 1954.[4]

Family life[edit]

He was married twice, first to Violet Houldsworth (d. 1927) and subsequently to Ellis Johnsen (d. 2001). He had a son and a daughter by his second wife. He was a keen traveller, including a visit to the Empire State Building in New York in 1931 when it opened.[5] Photograph albums and scrapbooks from his travels are in the Essex Record Office.

Orsett church contains hatchments to his father and his first wife – the latter was painted by Sir Francis himself. The other hatchments in the church were restored at the expense of Sir Francis following a fire.[6] He also painted portraits, two of which are in the Thurrock Museum.[7]

Sir Francis died in 1962 and was buried with full military honours at Orsett parish church.[8] The funeral was an important local event and the head gardener on the Orsett Estate, Alfred George Cuthbert, took a number of photos of the funeral for his album. Four of these were published in 2018.[9]

The baronetcy and estate were inherited by his son, Sir John Whitmore (racing driver). He is commemorated in the name of a local pub, The Whitmore Arms. His portrait from W.W.1 hangs in the headquarters of the 70th (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron. A later portrait in Lord Lieutenant's uniform by Herbert James Gunn hangs in the Shire Hall in Chelmsford - see Sir Francis Whitmore. On 10 September 2015, a Thurrock Heritage plaque was unveiled commemorating Sir Francis and other Officers and Men of the Essex Yeomanry and 10th Royal Hussars who served in the Great War.[10]


  1. ^ EJT Collins, A History of the Orsett Estate
  2. ^ a b "Whitmore, Col Sir Francis Henry Douglas Charlton". Who's Who 2019. 1 December 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u55708. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Sir Francis Whitmore". The Times (55416). 13 June 1962. p. 12.
  4. ^ "No. 40224". The London Gazette. 6 July 1954. p. 3959.
  5. ^ The Whitmore Scrapbooks, Friends of Historic Essex Newsletter, Winter, 2012
  6. ^ Orsett Hatchments
  7. ^ 2 artworks by or after Francis Whitmore, Art UK
  8. ^ George Newark, writing in Panorama - the Journal of the Thurrock Local History Society number 40
  9. ^ "In living memory; from the album of Alfred George Cuthbert, former head gardener at Orsett Hall". Panorama, the Journal of the Thurrock Local History Society. 57: 18–20. 2018.
  10. ^ Thurrock Local History Society web site
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Richard Colvin
Lord Lieutenant of Essex
Succeeded by
Sir John Ruggles-Brise, Bt
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New title Baronet
(of Orsett, Essex)
Succeeded by
John Whitmore